Caffeine consumption from coffee and atrial fibrillation
Atrial fibrillation is the most common cardiac arrhythmia and involves the two upper chambers (atria) of the heart. People with atrial fibrillation usually have a significantly increased risk of stroke.
To date, research has not demonstrated an association between coffee consumption and risk of atrial fibrillation, although some studies have suggested that coffee consumption may have a protective effect25-32:
- A meta-analysis with 228,465 participants concluded that caffeine exposure was weakly associated with a reduced risk of atrial fibrillation. A dose response analysis suggested that the incidence of atrial fibrillation decreased by 6% for every 300 mg per day increment in habitual caffeine intake. The authors concluded that it is unlikely that caffeine consumption causes or contributes to atrial fibrillation and that habitual caffeine consumption might reduce atrial fibrillation risk25.
- Three further reviews have concluded that caffeine consumption is not associated with an increased risk of atrial fibrillation, and may have a protective effect26-28.
- A prospective cohort study evaluated the effect of caffeine consumption on atrial fibrillation in women. The participant population, 33,638 women from the Women’s Health Study, had an average follow up of 14.4 years and in this period there were 945 cases of incident atrial fibrillation. In this study, caffeine consumption was not associated with an increased risk of incident atrial fibrillation. In this population, on average 81% of the caffeine came from coffee29.
- An earlier prospective study among 47,949 participants in Denmark looked at the association between daily caffeine consumption from coffee, tea, cola, cocoa and chocolate, and increased risk of atrial fibrillation. Over the 6-year follow up period, 373 men and 182 women developed atrial fibrillation or flutter. The authors found no association between caffeine consumption and risk of atrial fibrillation. The main source of caffeine in this study was coffee30.
- A population cohort of 1475 free-living men and women observed for 12 years concluded that a higher caffeine intake (>165 mmol/day or > 320 mg/day) is associated with a lower incidence of atrial fibrillation31.
- Data from selected studies representing 176,675 subjects suggests that the incidence of atrial fibrillation is not increased by coffee consumption and a lower incidence of atrial fibrillation was observed when caffeine consumption exceeded 436 mg/day32.
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